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Preventing and inhibiting arterial sclerosis
9. Eat tofu to prevent and inhibit arterial sclerosis

Tofu contains nutritional elements that prevent and inhibit arterial sclerosis by strengthening blood vessels and eliminating oxygen radicals.

Arterial sclerosis is a disease in which the blood vessels become harder and thicker, lose their elasticity, and are subsequently weakened. The inner diameter of a blood vessel becomes narrower as it thickens. When a blood clot blocks this narrowed passage, blood flow stops and oxygen and nutritional elements can no longer reach the cells downstream, causing tissue to die. Although everyone experiences some degree of hardening of the arteries with age, garterial sclerosish generally refers to degrees of hardening that exceed the norm. Arterial sclerosis is accelerated by other conditions such as obesity, hyperlipemia, hypertension, diabetes, etc. As arterial sclerosis progresses, it can cause heart disease (myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, etc.), cerebrovascular disease (cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral infarction, etc.) and nephrosclerosis. Heart disease and cerebrovascular disease are the second and third highest causes of death in Japan, each accounting for 14% of deaths. Since both heart disease and cerebrovascular disease are triggered by arterial sclerosis, when the two are added together the figure is almost as high as the highest cause of death in Japan, cancer, which accounts for 30% of deaths.

The most common cause of arterial sclerosis is abnormally high levels of cholesterol in the blood, a condition called hyperlipemia. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is used to build cell membranes throughout the body. Although the body does need cholesterol, arterial sclerosis is precipitated when there is too much cholesterol in the blood which is oxidized by oxygen radicals. Cholesterol is not bad in itself, the problems occur when there is too much and oxidization occurs. About one third of the cholesterol in the blood is derived from foods. The liver synthesizes the other two thirds from carbohydrates and fats. Consequently, to inhibit cholesterol accumulation and promote breakdown when cholesterol levels are high, it is important to reduce overall food intake and to not only eat cholesterol rich foods such as egg yolks, butter, meat, etc.

Tofu is a low energy food and contains elements that act to reduce excess cholesterol. Tofu also contains elements that eliminate the oxygen radicals that would otherwise oxidize the cholesterol, which makes it effective in the prevention of arterial sclerosis.

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